NEW DELHI: The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) on Thursday said it has formed a five-member panel to inquire into the circumstances of a plane crash in Kerala's Kozhikode airport last week in which 18 people were killed.
In a statement, the board said, "The investigator-in-charge will complete its inquiry and submit the report to AAIB, India, preferably within five months from the date of the issue of this order."
Captain S S Chahar, a former DGCA-designated examiner for pilots of B737NG aircraft, will be the investigator-in-charge to inquire into the circumstances of the August 7 accident.
He will be assisted by four other investigators - operations expert Ved Prakash, senior aircraft maintenance engineer-B737 Mukul Bhardwaj, aviation medicine expert Y S Dahiya and AAIB deputy director Jasbir Singh Larhga, the board said.
The investigator-in-charge may take the assistance of other experts or agencies whenever required, said the AAIB.
An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people, including a six-member crew, overshot the tabletop runway during landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rains on August 7 evening.
The narrow-body B737 plane fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into pieces, killing 18 people, including both pilots.
According to the AAIB statement, the headquarters of the investigation will be at New Delhi.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by the Rule 11 (1) of the Aircraft (Accident and Incident Investigation) Rules 2017, the Director General - AAIB, India hereby orders an investigation into the said accident to find out the probable cause(s)," it stated.
Air India Express on Thursday said it has retrieved 298 baggage pieces so far from the plane crash site in Kozhikode with the help of the US-based company Kenyon International.
Moreover, it said a total of 92 passengers injured in the plane crash in Kozhikode have been discharged till date from hospitals after "obtaining complete fitness".
The two leading pilot unions of Air India on Thursday sought a meeting with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to discuss matters related to working conditions and flight safety.
"Our pilots are constantly facing the challenges of COVID-19, monsoon weather, ill-designed flight duty time limitations (FDTL), several extensions and dispensations given by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation)," stated the letter written to Puri by the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG).
The two unions said they are writing on behalf of pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries Air India Express and Alliance Air.